Heart Heath: Pre-K Online Unit
January 28th, 2022
As online learning continues to be the protocol in my part of the world I looked for fresh ideas to implement in my twice-a-week Early Childhood (ages 4-5) Zoom PE classes. I came across, and purchased, an intriguing resource (Only $4! Check it out!) that provides activities to get students learning and thinking about how to keep their heart healthy. Combined with my own ideas, I created a 4 week, 8 class unit following the inquiry cycle and mixing heart-specific activities with fitness and reflection.
To start this unit off we did an exercise video to get the students moving. Afterwards I posed some questions:
What happens when you exercise?
What are you feeling right now?
Why does our heart beat?
What does blood have in it?
The students' answers to the first couple questions focused around “being tired” and that led us to what is happening when the body gets tired. We watched a short video about how exercise is good for the heart by WonderGrove Kids, and had a discussion about what they know about their heart, where the last two questions above were asked.
In this Zoom session we reviewed the first lesson, explored more kids themed fitness videos, reflecting afterward on what changes occurred in our body. I asked students what they knew about their heart, and had a discussion on if they enjoy having their heart beat fast after exercise. We finished class with teacher-led stretching, as I wanted students to recognize how their heart slows down as you do less intense exercise.
Seesaw Activity: Students familiarize themselves with the word “Heart”, and practiced writing the letter “h”. Most chose to practice with a spare piece of paper and upload a picture of their work rather than use the Seesaw writing tools.
As we moved into week 2 of the unit, I focused on having students recognize a “cartoon” shape of a heart, vs. finding out how the heart actually looks in your body. Mixed in with kids friendly fitness videos of course.
The second lesson of the week focused on discussions about how the students like to make their heart stronger. After watching this video on “How the Heart Works”, we made connections with the various sports, games, and activities they play and how all these things keep their heart healthy and beating strong. Mixed in with exercise videos (including the favorite Just Dance ) students were excited to share the physical activities they would be doing on the weekend.
Seesaw Activity: Students had a picture of an anatomically correct heart and they needed to colour it in, matching the numbered sections with specific colours. They could draw directly on Seesaw, or print it off and upload a picture.
Continuing with fun fitness videos ranging from Superhero Tabata to Yoga Freeze Dance, students reflected and reviewed how they make their heart stronger. “Playing every day” and “trying your best to do all the exercises” was a consistent theme to the answers.
Seesaw Activity: Students coloured in a human outline to create a self-portrait of themselves. Afterwards they finished the phrase: “I keep my heart healthy by…” It was nice to see students excited to colour and draw while also reflecting on what they enjoy doing the most to be heart healthy.
With the link to how exercise makes the heart stronger well established by this point, I asked the question “How else do you stay healthy?” While I was hoping something along the lines of “eating healthy” would be an answer, their answers first mentioned sleeping every night and washing our hands. (Thanks Covid for embedding this strongly in their brains!) When what we ate did pop up as a way to go further towards being healthy it allowed me to segway into a “Healthy vs Unhealthy food” Tabata video.
Seesaw Activity: Students sorted a range of food and drink pictures into two categories. “Healthy” and “Sometimes”. I chose sometimes as I wanted students to understand it is okay to have cake on occasion and doesn’t mean you are an unhealthy person. It may be unhealthy food but if you balance it with more healthy food most of the time it is okay.
Lesson 7 and 8
In the final week of our mini Heart Health unit, the goal was to have students reflect on what they have learned about keeping their heart strong, and how different exercises make their body and heart feel.
Over the two classes we reviewed the short videos previously watched in lessons, and students shared one thing they know about the heart. In each class we performed a yoga activity, a medium intensity teacher-led fitness activity, and a high intensity Tabata workout, trying to feel our heartbeat and breathing patterns after each type of exercise.
Seesaw Activity: Students performed exercises at home as listed on a chart. After completing each exercise they had to self-assess how fast it made their heart beat. Slow, Medium or Fast. I could check for understanding by looking at if the students recognized that “Jumping Jacks” (or similar listed exercises) were consistently rated to cause a faster heartbeat than “Stretches”.
Implementing the Approaches to Learning
For this unit I focused on:
With reflection playing a major role in this unit, I hoped to foster a Zoom classroom where students were comfortable sharing answers and respectful of Zoom etiquette, listening to others share their answers or thoughts. We also looked at how to communicate effectively on Seesaw, encouraging students to type answers, handwrite, or voice record answers, whichever they felt most comfortable with.
Caring: Linked to the communication ATL, students taking turns answering questions and allowing others to speak was emphasized. We looked at how we can be caring while on Zoom and students said we could “try our best” and “exercise together”.
Knowledgeable: Being able to respond to questions about the heart, and share key facts from the videos we watched. On a fitness note, being able to perform the exercises in a safe manner.
I find it difficult to find resources and meaningful experiences for 4-5 year old's that transfer well and are engaging in a Zoom setting. My students in this age group love to do any type of fitness activity so this topic was a natural fit to slide in with the exercise activities.
The inspiration for this unit, a $4 TPT resource linked in the introduction, was designed for in-person learning. It was easy to screenshot or adapt for my own Seesaw posts online. I look forward to exploring a couple more of the included activities next year when we are back in-person learning… knock on wood.
Thoughts, questions, concerns? Let me know on Twitter @tannernickel or send me an email. I am always looking for ideas and ways to improve my inquiry teaching.